How Loop Mission is Reducing Food Waste in Canada

Loop Mission
Loop Mission

Loop Mission started with a phone call in 2015. David Côté was working on Rise Kombucha, a business he helped create, when he received a call from Fred Monette of Courchesne Larose, a fruit and vegetable distributor based in Quebec. Fred had heard of David and the work he was doing with Rise and wanted help. Fred informed David that every day Courchesne Larose was throwing away 20 tons of produce and he wanted to change that.


At first, David didn’t believe him. But Fred kept calling and eventually invited David to Courchesne Larose to prove it. So David went to the Courchesne Larose factory and brought Julie Poitras-Saulnier, whom he had just met and worked in sustainability. “We went to visit his warehouse and then we freaked out,” David says. “He was really throwing away 20 tons a day.”

Talking about it years later still gives David goosebumps. So the three shook hands and got to work. They knew something had to change and they wanted to be the ones to make a positive impact. Loop Mission (which started as Loop Juices) is changing the game when it comes to food waste and they are just getting started. We recently sat down with co-founder David Côté to talk about how Loop Mission began, why caring about food waste is so important, and what comes next for Loop Mission.

You May Also Like: The Coolest Quebec-Made Foods to Add to Cart

We need to make recipes not out of the market studies and the consumer trends, but out of what’s being wasted.

Why so much produce is being wasted

Many people think that a lot of produce is wasted because it is classified as ugly, misshapen, too big or too small. And while that is the case a lot of the time, there is more to the story. “The reality is that 85 per cent of the produce we receive are perfectly fine. They’re perfect, except that they’re in overstock in the industry,” David tells us. “Nobody knows exactly what is going to be the trend and how much are [they] going to sell. And they never want to run out.”

This perfectly fine produce goes to the landfill rather than compost because it’s already packaged—grapes in bags, strawberries and blueberries in plastic clamshells, and apples in wax. According to David, “nobody in the industry has the privilege and the money to pay employees to take them out of the packaging and send the rest to compost. Nobody can afford that. So it goes to waste.”

The beginning of Loop Mission

David and Julie had just met (they are now married with kids), but they knew they wanted to start a business together. The story goes that their first date took place on a Ferris wheel, where they spoke for hours about making the world a better place. Julie sold her house, David sold his restaurant business and some shares at Rise Kombucha and they were focused on Loop Mission full-time. Originally, they were sending the overstock to a juicing company, but when the co-packer raised their prices, David and Julie took matters into their own hands. They opened the Loop factory in Fred’s Courchesne Larose warehouse, directly where the produce was coming from.


More than anything, Loop Mission is a data-driven company and that goes back to the beginning. Fred told David and Julie how much overstock he had of each product each year, per season and with that information they made juice recipes. “That [is] the complexity of our business model,” says David. “We need to make recipes not out of the market studies and the consumer trends, but out of what’s being wasted. So we took all of that, we made recipes and we launched.”

Related: Gut-Friendly Probiotic Sodas Are Trending, Here’s Everything to Know

Loop Mission

The complexity of the Loop Mission business

“From the outside, we just look like a normal juice company,” David says. “But when you actually open the curtain and you see all the work in the background to actually get to the juice, people freak out.” According to David, Loop Mission is currently the only food manufacturer in the world that transforms produce that is supposed to go on a grocery store shelf. After they launched, more and more companies reached out saying they were having the same problem as Fred and Courchesne Larose and that they wanted to change it.

Loop Mission employees do the work that the big distributors cannot afford to do. They open the packaging, sift through the produce, de-stem, wash, and basically everything needed to prepare it for juicing. Based on the data that Fred and these other companies have provided, Loop makes and plans its products accordingly. David gives us an example with Clementines.

“Clementines are one of our biggest commodities. We use about 95 truckloads a year or more every year. We know that they’re being wasted between mid-December to April. So we need to be prepared to juice all of it. We juice all of those Clementines, and then we freeze in big barrels, the juice. We have a technology that makes slush, so as soon as it comes out of the press, it comes out frozen. [And we use that to make] the recipes every week for the rest of the eight months. It’s very complex in terms of data because we need to know how much we’re going to sell. We don’t want to keep too much because it’s expensive. So it’s a complex business. It’s very complex.”

I cannot be bored because our core mission is to reduce food waste, and there’s so much innovation through all the waste out there.


Related: A Guide to Using Frozen Vegetables

How new products are made and the bestsellers?

Loop Mission started with cold press juices made from fruits and vegetables, but they have since expanded, making smoothies, wellness shots, probiotic sodas and even natural soaps! While David wishes that they could say yes to every company that calls and asks for their help, 99 per cent of the time, they have to say no because of how much waste is out there. “We also now get phone calls from people in the industry that throw away things that we don’t use yet. Every line of products we launched was not an idea that we had. It was someone that called us saying, that [they are] throwing [something] away.”

One of the companies that reached out when they saw what Loop Mission was doing was Yum Yum Krispy Kernels. Known for their potato chips and other salty snacks, they were throwing out a lot of potato scraps and cuttings every day. So collaborating with a local Quebec distillery, Loop Mission began creating a lime-ginger flavoured gin.

The Loop Mission team keeps a black book full of food being wasted. They use this to dream up new product ideas, which, at the same time, helps to reduce food waste. This innovation is what inspires David and keeps him excited to continue the work with Loop Mission. “I cannot be bored because our core mission is to reduce food waste, and there’s so much innovation through all the waste out there,” he says.

When asked what David would like Loop’s next product would be, he says it’s egg whites. “You have no idea how much egg white is being thrown away—thousands and thousands of litres every week,” he says. And egg white is such a good product. But there’s so much thrown away because the market for egg yolks is way bigger. So I really want to do something with that.”

For now, the customer and David’s favourite juice is Morning Glory. It’s made with clementines, strawberries, and oranges. Another fan favourite is the recent product launch of sparkling iced teas. Available in four flavours, including one in collaboration with the brand DavidsTea, these refreshing teas have been a hit with customers. While the concept of food waste is not a good one due to the impact on the environment, David is excited about what is coming next for Loop.

You May Also Like: 10 Canadian Grocery Stores and Food Markets That are Changing the Game


Loop Mission

Circular Economy and Loop Synergy

The global vision for Loop Mission is to be the leader in circular economy in the food world. On the Loop website, circular economy is described as “producing goods and services in a sustainable way by limiting the consumption and waste of resources and the production of waste.” They are continuing this process thanks to their new Loop Synergy program.

David tells us that Loop Synergy is “a new project where we gather  food waste and we make a juice or a puree and we sell it back more stabilized to other food companies that want to also do circular economy, but they don’t have the manpower and the capacity to actually sort through [the produce].” Loop Mission was recently granted $1.5 million from Agri-Food Canada and the Canadian government to put into the Loop Synergy program.

This program is what David and the Loop Mission are focusing on right now. The reason is that it not only makes a difference in local produce distribution companies but also in other sectors of the food industry globally. “Now it’s a whole different strategy because now we make bulk barrels of purree and we need to find the customers for it, which [are across] the food industry. The breweries, the hummus companies, the smoothie companies. So now we’re putting all our focus on this, which is a totally different business unit in itself.”

If a food waste was a country creating greenhouse gas emissions, it would be the third biggest country in the world after China and the US.

You May Also Like: Community Food Hubs Across Canada

Why is fighting food waste so important?

According to Agri-Food Canada research, it is estimated that over 50 per cent of all food in Canada is wasted every year. David says that most of that comes from the food industry. Not only does food waste impact food security (1 in 7 Canadians suffer from food insecurity) but it also has a significant impact on the environment. David tells us that “when you send food to the landfill, it creates methane, a lot of methane. And it is an acid that will pollute water and that will contaminate biodiversity. So by fighting food waste, you’re automatically reducing greenhouse gas emissions.” Agri-Food Canada also reports that 8 per cent of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions are caused by food waste.

“If a food waste was a country creating greenhouse gas emissions, it would be the third biggest country in the world after China and the US,” says David.

David and Julie have always been passionate about sustainability. “I used to be an environmental activist,” David says. “And I still am in a way. I found out that [creating] a business that fights food waste is way stronger than being in the street with a sign and yelling at a politician. I feel like I’m really having more of an impact.”

It has been eight years since Fred made that initial phone call, David and Julie changed their career path and since Loop Mission was created. In that time, a lot has been accomplished but more change need to happen. As David said, they cannot take all the food waste they are offered. Even though their company is growing (now with 75 employees), David hopes that more people are inspired by Loop Mission and their values to help with the food waste that happens around the world.  “There’s nobody that does this at our scale worldwide. We’re the only ones doing it at this scale. Our vision is to go all around to implement the same concept in Europe, the same concept in Australia because there’s waste everywhere.”


You May Also Like: 10 Gourd-geous Pumpkin Recipes You Need to Avoid Food Waste